The 2014 Kentucky Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) Military Youth Hunt was held over the weekend of October 9-12 with 47 youths from across the state combining to harvest 41 deer.
All of the participants were children from military families with a parent or parents actively serving, having served or who died in service to our country. For most of the children, it was their first time taking a deer.
Four QDMA Branches – Derby City, Kentucky Heartland, Barren River and Owensboro – partnered to host the Kentucky QDMA Military Youth Hunt with the mission “to pass on our hunting heritage by providing a safe and rewarding hunting opportunity to children of our local military.”
These Branches raise all of the funding for this annual event – estimated at over $15,000 in 2014 – to make the hunt free to the families. This year’s participating families were from the Survivor Outreach Program, Wounded Warrior Program, active duty military and the Active and Reserve Programs of the Kentucky Army National Guard.
The 47 participants and their families were separated among three deer camps – Camp Piomingo (32 kids), Allen County (10) and Muhlenberg County (5) – and over 100 volunteers helped with the event. As part of the program, the children are introduced to hunter ethics, shot placement, deer aging, archery and more.
Additionally, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife provided a field-dressing seminar, and Friends of the National Rifle Association (NRA) provided training in trail safety, trail orienteering, gun safety and trap shooting as part of the NRA Youth Hunter Education Challenge. Each kid also received a Rack Pack membership.
The entire Kentucky QDMA Military Youth Hunt took place on over 15,000 acres of private land, and Kentucky Outdoors Magazine and Primal Instinct TV were in attendance to report for their publication and to film the hunt, respectively.
In the end, 41 deer were harvested, and many of the young hunters took the meat home while more than 1,000 pounds of venison was donated to Hunters for the Hungry.
One of the many highlights of the 2014 hunt was Jacob Gorter tagging a mature, 5.5-year-old, 10-point buck, the largest buck in the hunt’s history. Nevertheless, the mission of the Kentucky QDMA Military Youth Hunt goes well beyond mature bucks, as revealed by the story of 13-year-old Aubry Hendricks.
“Aubry got to experience the outdoors and hunting for the very first time,” said Brad Hoffman, president of the Owensboro Branch of QDMA. “Before this event, she had never held a gun of any kind. Friday morning, she learned gun safety and shot placement, shot her gun and got her hunter education certification. After experiencing all that, it was game on for Aubry! The first morning of the hunt, she was fortunate to see many bucks and does. Using a .20-gauge slug gun, she had her first opportunity at a doe. Taking her time and using the recently learned skills and advice, she made a perfect shot and dropped the doe at 110 yards! Introducing anyone, especially our youth, to the great outdoors and being a part of them experiencing it and their first deer is what this hunt is all about. I do believe we have a new future huntress on our hands!”
QDMA applauds the Derby City, Kentucky Heartland, Barren River and Owensboro Branches for all of their hard work and dedication to making the Kentucky QDMA Military Youth Hunt a major success!
Also, QDMA would like to thank the National Guard State Family Program for its partnership in hosting this annual hunt. Both QDMA and the National Guard would like to replicate this event in other states. If interested, please e-mail QDMA’s Youth Education and Outreach Manager Hank Forester at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tanner Tedeschi at email@example.com
Image courtesy Quality Deer Management Association